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State of Iowa v. Sean Dana Scott

May 15, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
SEAN DANA SCOTT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Thomas G. Reidel (guilty plea) and Nancy S. Tabor (sentencing), Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle, P.J.

Sean Scott appeals from the sentence imposed after his guilty plea, asserting the district court erred in failing to provide specific reasons for ordering a sentence to be served consecutively with other sentences. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

Sean Scott appeals the sentence imposed after his guilty plea. He asserts the sentencing court failed to provide a reason for running his aggravated misdemeanor sentence consecutively to his felony sentences, and he requests remand for resentencing. We affirm, finding the court's rationale for the imposition of consecutive sentences is apparent from the overall sentencing plan.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Scott was charged with a multiplicity of offenses including conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony, arson, criminal mischief, possession of drugs, theft, and tampering with a witness. Scott and the State eventually reached a plea agreement. The agreement provided that Scott would plead guilty to the aggravated misdemeanor offense of theft in the third degree, as well as to two "class D" felony counts of conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges and to not pursue a federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Further, the State agreed that at sentencing, it would recommend concurrent five-year terms of incarceration on the two felony offenses, with a consecutively imposed two-year term on the misdemeanor offense, for a total of an indeterminate term of seven years in prison. The plea was not conditioned upon concurrence of the court.

The court accepted Scott's written plea of guilty to the theft charge. Following a plea colloquy, the court also accepted Scott's oral pleas of guilty to the two counts of conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony. The court stated that its decision on the acceptance or rejection of the plea agreement was deferred pending receipt of a presentence investigation report (PSI). Later a PSI was filed with the court, which recommended incarceration but did not make any recommendations on whether the sentences on each offense should be served concurrently or consecutively. Ultimately, the court adjudged Scott guilty of the three charges and imposed the sentences recommended by the State, ordering the aggravated misdemeanor conviction to run consecutive to the two felony convictions for a total term of seven-years' incarceration.

Scott appeals, asserting the district court erred in failing to provide specific reasons for ordering the aggravated misdemeanor sentence to be served consecutively to the felony sentences.

II. Scope and Standards of Review.

Our review of a district court's sentence is limited to the correction of legal error. State v. Rodriguez, 804 N.W.2d 844, 848 (Iowa 2011). When the sentence imposed is within the statutory limits, we review for an abuse of discretion. State v. Valin, 724 N.W.2d 440, 444 (Iowa 2006). "An abuse of discretion is found when the court exercises its discretion on grounds clearly untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable." State v. Barnes, 791 N.W.2d 817, 827 (Iowa 2010). "The district court enjoys a strong presumption in its favor which will not be overcome absent an affirmative showing of abuse by the defendant." State v. Sumpter, 438 N.W.2d 6, 10 (Iowa 1989).

III. Discussion.

"If a person is sentenced for two or more separate offenses, the sentencing judge may order the second or further sentence to begin at the expiration of the first or succeeding sentence." Iowa Code § 901.8 (2011).

A sentencing court must state, on the record, its reason for selecting a particular sentence. Barnes, 791 N.W.2d at 827 (citing Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.23(3)(d)). The court must also provide reasons for imposing consecutive sentences. Id. "A statement may be sufficient, even if terse and succinct, so long as the brevity of the court's statement does not prevent review of the exercise of the trial court's sentencing discretion." State v. Hennings, 791 N.W.2d 828, 838 (Iowa 2010) (quoting State v. Johnson, 445 N.W.2d 337, 343 (Iowa 1989)).

At the sentencing hearing, the State made the recommendation required by the plea agreement that the two felony sentences run concurrent with each other and the aggravated misdemeanor sentence run consecutive to the felony sentences, for a total term of seven years' incarceration. However, Scott requested the court run all three sentences concurrently for a total term of five years' incarceration. Although Scott replied, "No ma'am," when the court asked if there was anything he cared to say in mitigation of his sentencing, Scott's wife and his mother both spoke and essentially requested the court enter ...


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